Work of Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions and their innovative anti-Covid 'Diving Bell' scheme is honoured through national award

By Neil Speight

28th Nov 2020 | Local News

THE man at the helm of Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions, a community interest company run by disabled people for disable people, has been honoured at a prestigious event highlighting the great work carried out by social enterprises across the country.

Social Enterprise UK is a network of social enterprises across the UK and in the past week hosted a virtual conference feature experts in the field and many of those who have made an impact in the social care sector.

At the end of the event, Social Enterprise UK announced its 'Roll of Honour' a list of individuals and organisations nominated by people who have been helped.

And on it was Neil Woodbridge, the chief executive of Grays-based Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions (TLS), who said the accolade was just a reflection of the work carried out by all those in the organisation.

TLS is an enterprise established in 2007 and is unusual in that its governance insists that 100 per cent of its board are people who identify as disabled. TLS took over the majority of Thurrock Council's disability services in 2013 and currently offers support to more than 200 people in the borough.

The company was previously recognised by Social Enterprise UK when it was a finalist in the UK Social Enterprise Awards 2017 in the Health & Social Care category.

And now Mr Woodbridge has been recognised for his work following this year's event which involved nearly 1,000 attendees who came together to celebrate the heroes of the last year.

During 2020 TLS responded to the coronavirus pandemic hit by joining forces with many local organisations determined to keep their vulnerable citizens safe using a strategy that became known as 'Diving Bell'in which members of the team moved in with groups of people with learning disabilities and worked seven days on and seven days off in isolation to keep them safe. You can see how it worked via this video link.

Mr Woodbridge said: "I was very humbled to receive this nomination – but feel rightly proud of all our staff efforts during this virus. The true community spirit of Thurrock's 'Stronger Together' shone through – from shopping for over 50 families, letting our building be used as a temporary foodbank or simply just being with our vulnerable customers – I feel truly proud"

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